Mennonite Heritage Village

The Old Pond

by Gary Dyck

One day when I was ten my father came home from work and instead of working some more in his shop he came in to the house and told me to get my skates. He took me down the road where he had just seen the perfect patch of ice on a field to go skating on. Under my father’s loving eye I happily skated until it was dark, but it never was too dark with all that snow around us.

This winter, we are seeing an outdoor ice rink revival. It seems every neighbourhood has ‘rinks’. Including backyards, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more than 100 ‘rinks’ just in Steinbach.

Here’s some history on Steinbach’s first rink: “In 1912, local boys under the direction of flour mill bookkeeper Hendrik Sobering built Steinbach’s first ice rink at the north end of the village. The water for the ice was hauled along Main Street in a steam engine tank, pulled by Sobering himself with the help of his friends…it is probable that Sobering’s little “parade” marked the informal introduction of a new era of team sports, which were forbidden by the Kleine Gemeinde (Ralph Friesen, Between Earth and Sky: Steinbach, the first 50 years).”

Today we see outdoor rinks as important for the well-being of our children and even us adults. The father of John C. Reimer (the founder of the Mennonite Heritage Village) once met a group of boys a few years earlier than this first rink in 1909 who wanted to try out his pond for skating. Not only did ‘Uncle Johann Reimer’ give them permission, he also was caring enough to test it out for them – only to break through.

At the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) we continue this care for the well-being of our community and young families. We have our own pond whose shores have been eroding over the past years. In 2021 we hope to qualify for the Manitoba Habitat Trust fund, restore the shoreline sustainably and create a walking path around the pond. We are grateful for the Loewen family and their foundation that created this pond over fifty years ago and are still helping with it’s shoreline in 2021. Who knows, maybe one winter we can even turn the pond into a skating area?!?

This February we hope to host our annual Winter Carnival at MHV. It is a family event that has been growing every year since we started doing it in 2018. It usually includes an outdoor rink, snow sculpturing, horse rides and more. COVID has certainly put a damper on many community events, but we know that eventually we will be able to open our gates again to the public and look forward to that. Stay tuned!

If you are interested in learning more about Steinbach history, you can order Ralph Friesen’s excellent book ‘Between Earth and Sky: Steinbach, the first 50 years’ from MHV Village Books & Gifts, order online or by phone. We offer curbside pick-up.